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Monday, February 16, 2015

How Does Excitement for Edtech Become Contagious?

Have you ever been to a sporting event and for whatever reason the crowd just wasn't into it? Maybe it was too hot, or too cold, or the score was a runaway, there wasn't enough excitement, or both teams played lackluster which caused the fans to be chatting in the stands or playing with their phones or people watching more than they were actually watching the event they had paid money to attend. I have been at those events. As a coach, player, cheerleader, rabid fan, or sports administration person the overall thought has to be "How do we change this climate?"
The same concept often holds true in education regarding technology. There are educators out there doing amazing things by using technology to enhance lesson plans but they aren't being seen, applauded, or even recognized! There is a new teacher out there- the one that realizes times are changing and constant access to information is here and  affordable wearable technology is right around the corner. According to a 2014 Pew report 83% of Americans aged 18-29 have smartphones. While this study did not ask anyone under that age, I know as a mother of teens, in my school community, the percentage of teens with smartphones would be exceptionally high as well (http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/).  There are teachers out there that are now trying to adjust their teaching to ask more "ungoogleable" questions, to change their teaching into "how do I teach these students to love learning, critically think, curate information, and use the information they always have in hand to make them smarter, well-rounded, individuals that add to, develop, and influence their worlds around them for good?" It's a question educators have been asking for years, "How do I best teach my students?" but the difference is that today's student has access to information on them all the time. According to my google search just now, "Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide." (http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/). This tells me that people want to learn and are learning everyday in their least restrictive environment.
So why is it some educators just don't see the value of teaching students using technology? WE NEED MORE HYPE. No, not hype for hype sake...but teachers need to see how to make a good lesson better or a bad lesson good! Three times this year I have taken groups of educators to different schools and let them observe technology integration in action. Three times this year, those teachers have come back to our school and implemented something they were excited about seeing while at those schools. When teachers see amazing lesson plans using technology working, they feel more confident that it will work for them. When teachers visit enthusiastic tech-using teachers, when they have enthusiastic tech support, when they are praised by their administration for trying to enhance lessons using technology integration, when they have small triumphs they want to share with others, the excitement for Edtech becomes contagious. What can we do to grow this? Encourage teachers to ask others how they are integrating, encourage great integrators to share their ideas, allow teachers to visit other schools, give them the support staff to brainstorm new ideas, give them the culture to fail forward, hold their hands, invest, research with and for them. We need to celebrate beneficial edtech moments in their classroom and push them through the failures and fears of bad tech moments- both happen, just like good and bad lesson plans happen without technology. Visiting a teacher that is smiling from ear to ear because they have come to the realization that something about edtech makes them feel like they can "teach" or "reach" better is one of my favorite moments...those smiles are contagious- share them!



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